La Conchita residents combating danger of hillside with resilience

La Conchita residents combating danger of hillside with resilience

LA CONCHITA, Calif. - Residents in La Conchita know all too well how dangerous weather systems like this can be.

Back in 2005 a landslide claimed 10 lives and destroyed or damaged dozens of homes.

So how do community members, living in an area prone to disaster, cope with an imminent threat?  Resilience.

As the rain picked up in La Conchita Monday afternoon, Dennis Hall packed up his truck.

"I am frightened, yeah.  I'm frightened to lose my property and for the community as well," said Hall, a longtime La Conchita resident.

Hall is torn on evacuating but says staying safe is the priority.

"There could be some losses if the hills come down so we're all concerned here in the community," said Hall.

This is a community that's been been put through the ringer.  The hillside that gave way in 2005 is now scorched from the Thomas Fire.

"There's a lot of little ash so there maybe some run off so that's why we got the sand bags. For the most part we're pretty resilient over here," said Felipe Castaneda, another local resident.

It all seems like old hat for residents like Mike Bell.

"The fire department, the county, everybody is concerned about the hillside, what it's going to do if it rains really hard.  We all know that, we all know to keep an eye on it.  We have people that know if something is happening, drive around town, honk your horn, get everybody awake, get them out and get them working," said Bell.

Bell says he'll spend most of Monday night on the town tractor, driving around and making sure everything is OK.

"This is just something we know we have to do to be prepared," said Bell.

If you've driven south of Santa Barbara, you've likely notice artificial green coloring on the hillside.  Residents say it's called Hydro Seeding.  Its a mixture of water, mulch, seed and "sticky stuff"  - they're hoping it holds the dirt but some aren't calling it a foolproof solution.

"We just don't know if it will help, whether it's far enough in advance of the storm, to actually get some seeds in the ground, some roots growing," said Bell.

Bell says his small beach community is as prepared as any other town.

"We have clearance behind the homes for the mud to get out of the backyards onto the streets and we got a way to move the mud out of the street," said Bell.

If all else fails, Bell's motto seems uplifting during these tense times.  "Love, live, La Conchita," he said. 


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